Carving Out Time and Keeping the Balance
So this moves in nicely to the importance of building habits. If you build blogging habits it'll come much easier to you. Because you don't have to continuously make the decision to do it, you just do it. It's like if you have something that you normally eat for breakfast and it's a healthy choice and you're doing it every day, you don't have to make the decision, you just do it. Or if you build a habit to walk every day, for instance. Maybe you take your dog on a walk every afternoon. It's not, you don't go home and decide, "Okay, I'm gonna walk my dog," you just do it, it just happens. So building those habits, as many of them as possible, really helps so that you just don't have to think about it, it's something that you're doing. Establishing and keeping a routine can be even more important than having a lot of time. This is from Austin Kleon in Steal Like An Artist and I could not agree more. A lot of people say, "I don't have a lot of time." You can get a lot done in a little bit...
of time, especially if you establish a routine. Make things habits. Something I try to do habitually is take pictures. So then I'm not even thinking about it, I'm taking lots of pictures that I can share on my blog, that I can keep and categorize and have for later, that I can share on social media something that I want to make a habit out of so that I don't even have to make the decision to take out the camera, to take the photos, to post every Wednesday. It's a habit that I have created, I know it's gonna happen. It's not a decision I have to make whether I'm gonna do it or not. I know that when I post on Wednesdays I'm also gonna send out an email to my list. So I don't have to decide, do I want to send an email out today or do I not want to? I know it's happening. On Pinterest, I usually pin every day now. I haven't while I've been teaching here, but otherwise I have. That's a habit that I've built up because I get lots of traffic from Pinterest. And so I know if I'm tracking it every day, it's just a habit. Just something that I do. I don't have to make the decision to go there, to do the pinning, to pin my own stuff, it's become something that comes naturally now. Even though I've only been doing it for a little bit of time. So are there any habits that you guys want to build? Any blogging habits that are important to you, besides the ones that you've shared from your black and white goals? Journal writing in the morning. The artists way, the morning pages. Not turn anything else on, just keep the digital free zone. Can you explain what the morning pages are to people who may not know? You write three pages and you write it by hand first thing in the morning. And it's pre-writing, which you talked about yesterday. Yeah, just let it go. Is that something that you do sometimes already? I have over the years, but I fell off that wagon. Anything else? Any other habits you guys want to build? I'm gonna figure out more, I'm pretty good with Instagram, I don't need-- That's fine, that's a habit already, but some of the social media tools that I use but not necessarily habitually, figure out where I can do that in the week and just have it more scheduled. The thing about some of that stuff is I actually really do like to be in the moment so often I usually Instagram more when I'm by myself because when I'm out with friends and things I'm really in that moment and I don't want to lose that aspect of myself. So I think if I just have times when I'll be keeping up on it. Alright, anybody else? Anybody online? We do have some more online. Arusa says, "A habit I've developed just on my personal "blog is to keep a list of relevant or otherwise "inspiring quotes. "So then I just copy and paste them as soon as I find them." Oh I like that one. So anytime you think of, "This is something that I want "to be doing regularly," try to make it a habit so that you're just not thinking about it, you're just doing it. It makes it so much easier. Here's another great quote from Mellie that the internet really loves here. She says, "You have the same amount of hours in a day "as Beyonce." And that encourages her to knock out all of her tasks. If Beyonce can do it, everybody out there can. Or the president. You have the same amount of hours in the day that the president does. It's a finite resource, we all have 24 hours it's just how you use them. Yeah, absolutely. So mark time for blogging in you calendar right now if you already have not. Many of you have already shown or have already told us that these are the days that I blog, it's absolutely on my calendar. If you don't have it in your calendar, mark time for it in there now. And like we talked about, you may want to mark time for writing the first draft, then time for editing, then time for taking photos. You may need it in more than one slot in your calendar. Some people believe you have to separate work and non-work time, I disagree. And I know this is controversial and I know some people are gonna say, "You absolutely have to separate "these things," but I completely absolutely disagree. Much of my work bleeds into my life, mostly because I love it. I love the stuff that I do, I love the stuff that I share. And so it often comes from whatever's happening in my life. And it makes blogging so much easier for me. For instance, the picture you see here, this is a cocktail recipe my husband and I were having cocktails on a Sunday afternoon and I thought this would be a great blog post so I'm gonna share this recipe. So I took pictures, shared the recipe later that week on my blog, something that was happening naturally in my life. Often you can take life moments and use them for your blog. Examples, Instagram photos, recipes like the one I just shared, a DIY project with your kids, asking your readers to help you pick your glasses. I talked about this post that was really popular on Blacksburg Belle. I was choosing new glasses so I ordered the five that you can get from Morby Parker that you get to try on home. I took pictures in each one, I published it on my blog, and this was such a popular post. Everyone wanted to help me choose my glasses. And this was something that was happening in my life. Another example is posting art journal pages. Anything that you think, "I could take this from my life, "this is something I already do," so something that's already happening, "and then pull that onto my blog and make that part "of my blog." I think it makes things so much easier. This does not mean you should always be working, however. You definitely need time for you, you definitely need time for friends, you definitely need time for family. You have to pick and choose moments you can use. This picture is from when I'm at a flea market and I posted a bunch of pictures from that day at the flea market and my readers loved it. They loved seeing me at the flea market. However, there have been lots of other times where I've gone to the flea market that I've just been in the moment, that I haven't taken any pictures and just enjoyed the time. I enjoy taking pictures anyways, so this is fun for me even when I am taking pictures. I like to find interesting things that I can photograph and interesting ways I could photograph myself that would be a little unique and different. How can you blur blogging and life. This is in your workbook, page 73. What areas of your life could you use for your blog? Are there things you regularly do that your ideal reader would be interested in? Again, this does not mean that you should always be working. This is just thinking about, "I already do these things, "I know my ideal reader would be interested in it, "so why not use it as blog material?" And if it doesn't work for your blog, stuff that you could share on social media. So you may think, "This wouldn't be the right fit for "my blog, but I could use this for Facebook updates, "or I could use this for Twitter. "Or I could use this for Instagram." This is an example of me with one of my sweet dogs. I took photos of me and my dog that I use on my blog. And this was a setup I talked about in, I believe it was session one. Where you can see the roses a little bit in the background where I put a chair and a table and roses and stuff out in the leaves and then a blanket and took lots of photos that I would later be able to use in my blog. (laughter) This is Kya Lucy. This is one my sweet labs. I made a tutu for her because she's very girls and, in fact, she loves to prance around in this. And so I shared this DIY on my blog, this was incredibly popular. Everyone loved this, whether it was, "Oh my gosh I can't believe your dog it in a tutu," or, "I have to make this." I got an email the next week saying, "I made this for a friend, thank you so much for "posting this." She loved it, her dog, I've got pictures and she sent me a picture of her friend's dog in the tutu. On the left these are some DIY mugs that I did. I took the idea from A Beautiful Mess, their DIY, and I made mugs for my husband and I for a Christmas gift. I shared it online, I shared it on my blog. I'm at the pumpkin patch on the left and here's another one on the right. I shared a day at the pumpkin patch with my readers, they really loved these photos. They just loved seeing what else I'm up to. We made some succulent planters, so I took photos of that the day that we decided we were gonna make some planters for our home. Another DIY. I made these DIY dish towels. I used fruit, imprinted it onto these plan white dish cloths and this was another really popular one. I was making it because I thought it would be really cute and I shared it on my blog. So there are lots of opportunities that I think we don't realize that we could use for either blog material or social media updates or both. So what do you guys think? Where are some areas that you could blur blogging and life? What did you write down? I have pet chickens and so I sometimes write about them and post pictures of them 'cause they're fancy. I would like to see that, pet chickens. And do your readers enjoy those posts?
Oh yeah. Yeah, yeah. What else? Going for a walk and then just seeing random things in the street. Shoe, whatever. It could be something beautiful, too. Anything can be beautiful, but just things I see. Mhmm, yeah. I've posted pictures from an evening walk. Those have been, my readers have loved that too, yeah. What else? My dog. My dog is already very popular on my blog 'cause she's adorable and I have posted about some of the quirky things that she does and people love that, but that has really nothing to do with the type of business that I run. Yeah, but they've seen a unique, different side of you. As a dog lover, that's something that I would like to see for somebody that I'm thinking about working with. And your readers loved it?
Yeah. She sleeps on my feet while I work. Anything else? That's basically why I started my blog was just 'cause I already was crafting a lot and I wanted to share what I was making. So definitely that's basically what mine is all about. But there are more, there's some things I've done like when I went to Renegade last summer I actually took pictures. Renegade is a craft fair, if you don't know. And I took pictures of new makers that I hadn't seen before that I really liked their stuff or people who I did know and liked their stuff. And I did a blog post about that. And that's something I was already gonna be going to the thing so I was like, "Oh, I'll bring my camera. "And have a blog post." And that seems like a really good one for your audience. Anything else? I'm thinking about maybe travel 'cause I do a lot of traveling and I have done blog posts and I've tried to tie it in with course making and I really get a lot of feedback on those types. I did a trip last summer up highway One in my convertible and I had a picture of myself sitting on top of my convertible out in Big Sir. So people really loved that. I went to Argentina in December and I posted about that and I had a picture of the white water rafting trip that I did. So I tend to get a lot of feedback on the personal things, like the travels and the trips and the museums that I go to. So I think I need to really incorporate more of that into my blog posts. Yeah, people love this stuff. They love to see the human side of us. They love to see the other stuff going on, the behind the scenes. Anybody online? Yeah, I think along those same lines Kris with a K says, "I was thinking about doing a vlog while I do "the dishes or folding laundry or something like that "as kind of a silly way to show the whole working "from home thing." Arissa also says, "I love the idea of sharing my "home office, I recently transformed part of it into "a small studio so it would work as a behind the scenes "look for some of my readers." I think people really like that. And we do that here at CreativeLive, too. We love showing behind the scenes photos and people always appreciate that. And you guys heard from (mumbles) that her most popular video post has been of her the behind the scenes of what it takes to setup one of her videos. Of her working out, she's on the elliptical going a million miles an hour, she sped it up and then putting on her make-up and doing her hair. That was her most popular video posts because people love to see that stuff. Another thing that you can do to make blogging a little bit easier is set a specific column or theme. This can help you to quickly generate content. So creativity thrives with some limitations. So an example you could say, "Every Monday I'm gonna "post a recipe." Or, "Every Friday I'm gonna post photos from my "creative work." So that you know exactly what kind of column or what kind of theme you're gonna have for that day. That can help you generate content, keep things on a schedule, keep things moving. Do any of you guys do that currently? Have a specific column theme? Yeah, I do my link roundup post which is just things that I like. I call it editor's notebook, it's every Friday. Just a nice way to start the weekend. Okay and does that help you that you have something specific and set, this is what you're doing on Fridays? Yeah, it makes it a lot easier so I know any links or any things that I find during the week I know I'm saving them all for Friday. I like it, yeah. I used to, last year I set the challenge of blogging every day for myself. And I did really well up until November, December, I took some time off. But I blogged pretty much every day for a year. And one of the things I decided was I'm gonna try to share a recipe every week and that helped because I thought about, when my husband and I were making our favorite recipes, I thought this would be a great one to share, to take photos of. Don't multitask. When you're blogging, close everything else. I know this is hard and I know you don't want to do it. But close your email, close Facebook, close Pinterest, close Twitter. You need to focus, to work deeply, to be entranced in what you're doing, to feel that flow. You will be amazed at one, how much you get done in a short amount of time when you close everything else out, and how much better your work will be. Both things happen. Your work will be so much better if you're completely focused. What happens is you'll see that notification that we have another email and we click over to it, and then we come back to our blog post and keep writing. And our attention has had to shift, it takes us much longer to get through it because you have to refocus your attention and even if you think it's only a little bit of time to refocus, studies have shown that it takes much longer than we think it does. You'll get so much more done. Do you guys multitask when you're blogging or do you close everything out and completely focus? Jane, I see on a look on your face-- I haven't really done the blogging, but when I do other work I just listen to music and just turn everything else off. Anybody else? Do you try to multitask. I've been multitasking with the chat room. Sorry chat room, I'm focused on April for the rest of this. (laughter) Just close it out. I know how tempting it may be. Put your phone in the other room so that you're not getting notifications on your phone, either. You're gonna do so much better work. Let's talk about what to do when it's too much. So some people may be at the point where they feel already overwhelmed because you're getting too many emails, you're getting too many interview requests or guest posting offers or questions on social media. It's really hard to keep up with. Or if you're not at that point I'm hoping that when you put all of this content into action that it will get to that point where things start to snowball on itself and you start to see things move really quickly, but then the overwhelm happens. Because we're already feeling overwhelmed by how much we have to do. So what you have to do is you have to limit it. Say no to everything that isn't a complete yes. You may need to do this anyways because you're probably super busy adding blogging, trying to get these goals, trying to set your black and white goal and stick to it. You may have to start to do this anyways. Say no to everything that isn't a complete yes. Like, "Yes, this is so exciting to me, it's gonna be fun, "it's gonna help my business, yes." Say no with professionalism and gratefulness. So whenever I say no to somebody I always thank them for thinking of me, for asking me to be a part of whatever it is, and I just let them know that I can't give whatever it is they're asking me to do 100%. I let them know that my calendar is full, but thank you so much and please keep me in mind for upcoming projects. Because often it's not something personal. It usually is because I have a lot going on and that's not something else I can add. When someone asks to pick your brain, this happens a lot. Especially when you start to become known as an expert. Send them to your consulting sales page, if applicable. So if somebody says to you, say, "Hey, can I pick your brain for five minutes?" Say, "You know what, I actually offer this as a service, "here's the page you can go to to see my rates and "exactly what I offer." If that's not applicable then you can say no that you don't have the time or another option is to start a Frequently Asked Questions page and direct lots of people there. This is something that I do. Because I get lots of emails on what type of camera do you use, or what's your video setup, or do you offer consulting right now and what is your consulting, what are your rates? Or whatever questions that I get about what are your products, what are your current products? Lots of questions that I have put together on my frequently asked questions page, the ones that I get the most. That way when I receive that via email I can just send people to that page. Your question and probably the other ones that you have are right here. So it's an easy way to give people some information without having to repeat yourself over and over again. Another thing you can do is you can write up the answer that you're gonna use in an email over and over again. So if I see that I'm getting the same type of email over and over, I'll write up the template of what it's gonna be and that way I've got them all with me, I usually pull that up before I start checking my email 'cause I know I'm gonna get some of those questions. Then I can just copy and paste right into that email. So start creating those email templates. Also, if you're getting the same question over and over again, make it a blog post. And then just send people to that blog post 'cause then they're reading your blog. Designate specific times to answer emails and do as much as you can during those times. Same with social media. Don't allow it to take over. This is the top of my frequently asked questions page. So designate specific times to answer emails, do what you can during that time. I know people will say, "I could answer emails all day long, "and that could take over." Always, always, always answer customer emails, no matter what. Even if it takes you longer or if it really is taking you too much time then that's the time you might need to consider hiring that out and getting somebody to help you with it. And with social media. We can get caught up in this vortex and be on Instagram for 30 minutes or be on Pinterest for 30 minutes or go on Facebook and start clicking on a link and then go to another link and then another link. So with social media, the one thing I suggest is first to do whatever it is you need to do business wise, and then play. So set a timer for 20 minutes, set a timer for 30 minutes. Do the stuff, update your Facebook page, update your Twitter page or respond to comments, do the pinning that you need to do, update your Instagram account, and then use the rest of the time for play time. So you don't get caught up in that social media vortex which is very easy to do, which I do, we all are human, it happens. How much time do you guys usually spend on social media a day? What's the average? What would you say?
Less than a half hour. Great, that's a great time. What else? I'll spend an hour on Pinterest. And that seems like, do you have the time to do that? Well, not now. (laughter) But do 50 to 100 I try to how many can I pin that are high quality in a short amount of time? Once you find those followers, too, that you're following on Pinterest your feed will be filled with those high quality posts. I think my social media time is sporadic. So I don't set a specific time where I'm gonna check Twitter or I'm gonna check Facebook I just once in a blue moon just pop in there and answer questions or posts. I have been trying to be more focused and goal driven when I do go to social media so that I'm not getting sucked into the black hole, but I'm actually there for a specific purpose. But I do like the idea of setting the time, maybe 30 minutes, 20 minutes and I'm just gonna do social media during these hours and that's it. 'Cause I realize I waste a lot of time just checking stuff and doing things. Yeah, we absolutely can. People in the chat room agree with that. A lot of people are saying that they're too embarrassed to even share how much they say. Jostlyn says that she's embarrassed about it, it's like she's on call, she's so tired. She's just always constantly connected. We have people ranging, Aardvark Bill says only 30 minutes so he's kind of in that lower range. Some people one hour, two hours, it does vary. But a lot of them claim, Debbie Nolans says she just gets lost in social media, you lose track of the time you spend. And you've got to think about how much am I getting out of this as opposed to how much time I'm putting in. So that's something to consider, for sure. When do you experience light bulb moments? This si in your workbook on page 74. What are you doing when you get your best ideas? Where are you? Are you alone or are you with other people? Write down when you have those light bulb moments. What are you doing? Where are you? Are you with people? Are you alone? I get a lot of my light bulb moments in the shower or when I'm walking my dogs. I get some light bulb moments when I am talking something out with my husband or talking something out with (mumbles). But a lot of those light bulb moments come when I'm walking my dogs. For some reason I get some of my best ideas at that point in time. I also get a lot of light bulb moments when I'm folding laundry. 'Cause my hands are busy and it gives my mind a little time to wander. When do you guys get your light bulb moments? Reasoning things out with somebody else, I hadn't thought about that one, meditating, and then walking. What else? When I'm walking my dog, too, also when I'm going through the blogs that I regularly visit and reading other blogs or when I'm reading books. I always have a notebook next to me 'cause I'll get and idea. Anybody else, light bulb moments? Constantly dreaming about things that I want to make and do. You constantly daydream? Constantly, constantly. Okay you're gonna love this quote, are you ready for this? "People who consistently engage in more daydreaming "score significantly higher on measure of creativity."
That's good for you. This is from the book Imagine. Yeah, so unplug regularly. Hardly anyone ever says to me, "I get my best ideas when I'm sitting at my computer." I don't ever get that. And so we're talking about spending way too much time on social media, spending way too much time plugged in. You've got to unplug, I know that I'm telling you to blog regularly and to set these black and white goals, but also you have to set aside some time where you get away from the computer. Leave email and social media behind every once in a while. You'll come back refreshed and inspired and also find time to daydream. Allow your mind to wander because that's when you come up with your really good stuff, right? Do you guys unplug, do you have specific times where you're like, "This day I'm completely unplugged"? Or are you always plugged in?
It's just getting out of hand. It does get out of hand, it seems like everything is on a device of some sort. Me personally, I'm all about disconnecting after 10 PM. I try my best to never look at phones, computers, tablets unless it's absolutely necessary.
That's wonderful. It helps me sleep, I notice a difference. If I am looking at my computer all night I can't sleep afterwards. Yeah, yeah, absolutely. What about you guys? I'm pretty, I stay pretty disconnected when I'm actually making the stuff I'm making. 'Cause I'm moving around and stuff, I can't really be doing a lot of checking the computer. Or if I'm out with people, if I'm just engaged in more interesting things than my Facebook. Do you ever say, "This weekend I'm gonna be completely "unplugged"? Not completely, but I don't tend to check my email and things as much on the weekends just 'cause, just not in front-- I mean I have a day job so that's a desk job so I'm already get a lot during the week so it just kind of naturally happens on the weekends. What else? Do you unplug? Saturdays are usually my day to unplug. After I'm working on the business and then going to work Monday through Friday, Saturday is just a day I can just have for myself, have my me time, just relax, not check anything. And then I'll go back to working on things on Sunday. So that usually works for me, that schedule really is helpful for me in terms of getting things done. Do you feel refreshed? Do you have more energy? 100% more refreshed when I do that, exactly. I just feel like I get that time to kind of just get out there and play and do the things that I want to do. I find myself sometimes so focused on my goals and what I want for the future that oftentimes I forget that I have the here and now and I really need to enjoy that, as well. So those Saturdays are the time where my boyfriend and I, we will go explore LA or go to a new restaurant or go to a museum and so that is a constant reminder to me that I need to enjoy what I have right now instead of spending so much time. Although it's needed, but you have to find that balance. Yeah, absolutely. I tend to find that if I am constantly plugged in I feel like my energy is just drained, that I'm zombie-like. It just feels that way. And then when I unplug for a day or two just refreshing. And we often forget to do that. I've got a quote for you guys. "But if he is an artist, if he possesses that fusion of "gift, hunger, endurability, and finally a willingness "to embrace risk, he won't have much choice in the matter. "This life chooses us. This is Dani Shapiro in Still Writing and she's talking about her son. And I think that this is, this resonates with me so much because I feel like this creative life has chosen me. I feel like writing has chosen me. And my blog is a way to share that stuff. So I know a lot of you probably resonate with that, too. It feels like you've got that creative tug or that photography has kind of chosen you or that that creativity has kind of chosen you, you daydream all the time. And so the blog is the place to share this stuff. To share with the world, to leave your mark on the world. We had a lot of people chiming in about the places where they get their best ideas. Lots of people in the shower, before falling into bed. We have a lot of advocates now for taking extra long showers because that's when they're getting their best ideas and it's important for people to unplug. We're actually getting a lot of people now who feel so inspired to unplug, which is fortunate because we are coming to the end of the workshop. Glad we didn't talk about this earlier. Yeah, exactly. So we are coming up to the end of our session, it's hard to believe, it has flew by. April, I'm curious, do you have any final thoughts for people out there as they've been taking all this information that we've been giving them and letting it sink in, any final words of wisdom from you as people go out and put them into practice? Absolutely. First, take it one step at a time. So determine what you're gonna prioritize, focus on that first, and then do something else. Don't feel like you have to do everything that we talked about all at once or you're going to feel insane and crazy and like it's completely overwhelming. So set those goals, stick with those simple goals, take those next steps and once you've done that then you can add to your plate. I'm hoping that you feel completely comfortable and confident that you can go forth and now build a successful, creative blog and that you can prioritize it and find the time for it. So start with those black and white goals, go from there, and add to it.